We are Iranian!
Everyone has one, but after the Arab invasion of Persia, many of its people felt lost. As Shahrokh Meskoob quoted,
"Identity is a reactive matter and attention to self becomes more meaningful in relation to others."
Persians now had a choice, they could accept a new culture, including nationality, language (Arabic) and religion (Islam), or they could hold tight to the unique attributes making up their Persian identities.
Anyone who has heard of Persian pride knows they fought to remain as Persians, not Arabs.
Islam did eventually displace the native Zoroastrian religion, however, the Persians held onto their identity through their language, literature and arts which will be discussed in further detail later.
The confusion between the two ethnicities seems to arise from their shared religion of Islam. Islam is not a nation, nor is it an ethnic group. It is solely a religion.
Much like African Americans and Japanese can be Christian, Persians and Arabs can be Muslim
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The major language in Iran, former Persia, is Farsi. It is a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages which is a group of the Indo- European languages.
Aside from Iran, Farsi is spoken in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Pamirs Mountains.
In keeping their native tongue, Persians expanded the nature of Islam from a religion with primary Arabic origins to a more encompassing world religion. Persian language became the major literary instrument for many poems and religious works.
Persian poetry is some of the most beautiful poetry in the world and the Persians cultivated four unique types of poetry; the "epic", the "ghasideh" a purpose poem, the "masnavi" a narrative poem, and the "ghazal" a lyrical poem.
Ferdowsi, author of Shahnameh, took 35 years to write his epic poem about the heroes of Ancient Persia.
In the 13th and 14th centuries Saadi, Rumi and Hafez perfected the ghazal, lyrical poems but filled with passion. And Rumi's Masnavi is considered one of the most beautiful Persian literary works, if not of all Islamic writings.
Click here to read an excerpt from
Rumis Masnavi (Book 2 Story 10)
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The most notable Persian artwork is seen in the masterful woven carpets. Persian weaving flourished in the second half of the 15th century during the Safavid Dynasty.
The cities of Ardabil, Tabriz, Kashan, and Isfahan are the chief producers of Persian carpets. The colorful displays are usually designs taken from book covers, but geography can influence the tapestries as well.
In Tabriz, for instance, many of the rugs are made for prayer and contain a centralized medallion of sorts.
(Click on image to see)
(Click on image to see)
Prior to the foundation of Islam in Iran, Persians are noted for the development of one of the oldest monotheistic religions, Zoroastrianism. In this religion, there is one "Lord Wisdom", known as Ahura Mazda. Also important to the religion is the concept of the nature of good (Senta Mainyu) and evil (Angra Mainyu). One can see how the later monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have taken many of their teachings from this religion. Zoroastrianism, while having a small following, is still in practice today and many Iranian festivals still center around the Zoroastrian calendar.
One favorite is Norooz, a celebration of the Iranian New Year taking place on the Spring Equinox.